One of the most surreal aspects of the already historically surreal Trump-Russia scandal is that so many of the lawyers involved have ended up venturing into legal trouble themselves. Donald Trump’s longtime lawyer Michael Cohen just pleaded guilty to helping Trump commit crimes during the election. One of Paul Manafort’s attorneys was compelled to testify about something the two of them had been plotting together. Now Maria Butina’s attorney is in legal trouble as well.
Maria Butina is behind bars right now, having been denied bail as she awaits trial on federal charges of acting as an unregistered agent of the Russian government (translation: Russian spy). Even as the legal process against Butina has been playing out, her attorney has been out there running his mouth about the case to the media. It turns out the Feds have something of a problem with this, and they’re taking legal action against him.
New court filings reveal that the Feds are threatening to file for a gag order against Butina’s attorney, accusing him of having tried to taint the case by making important evidence public, and by accusing the Feds of making “false claims” and the like. This is allegedly in violation of Local Rule 57.7(b). Defense attorneys can speak publicly, but there are specific things they’re not supposed to say or do.
These kinds of things do happen from time to time. What stands out here is the sheer number of times that defense attorneys in the Trump-Russia scandal have crossed the legal line, or have been accused of crossing the legal line. The most notorious example is that of attorney Alex Van Der Zwaan, who pleaded guilty and served a month in prison for having tried to mislead Special Counsel Robert Mueller and his team.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report